3 skills you need to drive better collaboration

Jen Jackson

Jen is the CEO of award-winning employee experience company, Everyday Massive, as well as co-author of How to Speak Human (Wiley, 2018). She works with forward-thinking leaders to transform the employee experience — increasing connection, improving communication, and building capability in leaders and teams.


A study published in The Harvard Business Review found the time spent in collaborative activities at work has increased by over 50 per cent in the past two decades.

Larger projects; complicated problems; tighter timeframes: These require bigger teams with specialised skillsets and diverse backgrounds, often dispersed globally.

People in high-performing teams achieve better results, find better solutions, identify mistakes faster, and report higher job satisfaction. Profitability improves when people work together well. However, psychologists from Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Union College discovered group performance is only slightly correlated to individual talent. Often, the opposite is true. Instead, better collaboration comes from improving capability in three areas.

Empathy

Carnegie Mellon and co found that when it comes to teamwork, emotional quotient (EQ) trumps intelligence quotient (IQ). The highest performing teams in their study all exhibited high average social sensitivity: The ability to intuit how others feel, based on tone of voice, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.

As long as employees had the necessary expertise, teams with higher average social sensitivity collaborated better and outperformed groups with a lower score.

Psychological safety

Psychological safety describes an environment where people feel confident team members will accept them for who they are, without judging them for speaking up, making mistakes, showing emotion, sharing feelings or expressing personal concerns. Google discovered that people on teams with high psychological safety were less likely to leave, more likely to innovate, brought in more revenue, and were rated as effective more often by their leaders.

To build this environment, Harvard Business School professor, Amy Edmondson, recommends leaders create clear structures where everyone understands their role and expectations, foster camaraderie and inclusion, framework as learning problems rather than execution problems, acknowledge fallibility, and model curiosity by asking questions.

For a team to achieve their full potential, Edmonson also advises leaders balance psychological safety with accountability.

Communication

Communication plays a crucial role in ensuring people understand the collective purpose, objectives and impact; individual roles and expectations; and have a clear plan for execution. Research by KPMG shows a strong correlation between leaders who actively communicate purpose, and team engagement and morale.

The Carnegie Mellon study also found conversational turn-taking — the way in which group members share discussion — makes a difference. When everyone contributes roughly equally, collective intelligence increases. In teams where one or two people dominate the conversation, the opposite occurs.

By developing these three skills, leaders can significantly improve the performance of their teams.

Tags: business strategy, leadership

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

More whitepapers

Latest Videos

More Videos

Google collects as much data as it can about you. It would be foolish to believe Google cares about your privacy. I did cut off Google fr...

Phil Davis

ACCC launches fresh legal challenge against Google's consumer data practices for advertising

Read more

“This new logo has been noticed and it replaces a logo no one really knew existed so I’d say it’s abided by the ‘rule’ of brand equity - ...

Lawrence

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

IMHO a logo that needs to be explained really doesn't achieve it's purpose.I admit coming to the debate a little late, but has anyone els...

JV_at_lAttitude_in_Cairns

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

Hi everyone! Hope you are doing well. I just came across your website and I have to say that your work is really appreciative. Your conte...

Rochie Grey

Will 3D printing be good for retail?

Read more

Very insightful. Executive leaders can let middle managers decide on the best course of action for the business and once these plans are ...

Abi TCA

CMOs: Let middle managers lead radical innovation

Read more

Blog Posts

The obvious reason Covidsafe failed to get majority takeup

Online identity is a hot topic as more consumers are waking up to how their data is being used. So what does the marketing industry need to do to avoid a complete loss of public trust, in instances such as the COVID-19 tracing app?

Dan Richardson

Head of data, Verizon Media

Brand or product placement?

CMOs are looking to ensure investment decisions in marketing initiatives are good value for money. Yet they are frustrated in understanding the value of product placements within this mix for a very simple reason: Product placements are broadly defined and as a result, mean very different things to different people.

Michael Neale and Dr David Corkindale

University of Adelaide Business School and University of South Australia

Why CMOs need a clear voice strategy to connect with their customers

Now more than ever, voice presents a clear opportunity to add value to an organisation in many ways. Where operational efficiencies are scrutinised, budgets are tighter and discretionary consumer spend at a low, engaging with an audience is difficult.

Guy Munro

Head of innovation and technology, Paper + Spark

Sign in